[SG] Paul (Bakery) - Takashimaya, Singapore

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The much anticipated Paul bakery finally opened in Singapore! Scheduled for opening before Christmas, there was apparently some delay, but anyhow it is now here at Ngee Ann City! (where Coffee Club used to be located, beside Kinokuniya book store). Having first tried Paul Bakery at Covent Garden in London and a regular patron ever since (even when I am on transit in Dubai, would not fail to grab a bite from their bakery), a heart-warming sense of familiarity grew intriguingly from within. With antiques and decorative elements that were hunted for all over France, this bakery-restaurant here in Singapore certainly provided the special, welcoming atmosphere expected. For our dining experience at Dubai, please visit here.

With Paul being the latest French boulangerie to be imported into the Singapore bakery scene, it was definitely a blessing for our tastebuds just yet with Maison Kayser's offering of their palatable pastries and bread just a month ago at Scotts Square. The main difference being the former offered a greater range of gourmet treats including salads, soups, muffins on top of their signature cakes, macarons and tarts, while Maison Kayser's focus remained on their pastries and bread. It was hard not to draw comparisons, considering that both boulangeries originated from France and the close timing of their ventures in Singapore. Paul had the bakery separated from the dine-in restaurant, with an entrance to the latter down the corridor.

It was hard not to be tempted as I spotted my favourite caneles and chouquettes tucked at a corner but I left it till too late and the bakery section was closed when we left the restaurant. Managed to find some pictures of these treats which we tried in London before returning to Singapore in summer. (Pardon the poor quality mobile shots!)

 Praline Macaron 
Bite-sized chouquettes
Can you resist these golden delicious tempting caneles?

We were escorted to our table located outside the kitchen door and on the outside of the restaurant along the corridor overlooking the atrium of Ngee Ann City Shopping Centre. Being dished a well-decorated menu (though pages were teetering and falling off, considering how new the place was, it was a surprise), we were left to our own. Seated just outside the kitchen, the waiters and waitresses kept pacing up and down in front of us and the little squabbles among the team left me bewildered. It seemed like a couple of diners had wrong food served to them and food were being returned to the kitchen. 

We were pretty frustrated ourselves when the same thing occurred to us. First up was the waffle. Upon hearing the rather heated exchange of words between the kitchen staffs and the serving team regarding the mix-up in orders, I took extra care in making sure our choices were given to the waitress, but we were served waffle with chocolate instead of our intended waffle with sugar.

Waffle with chocolate sauce (S$6/-)

(-) Indulging a waffle treat without the buttery fragrance seemed quite a task.
(-) Did not taste like waffle at all, in fact we felt that it tasted more like bread.
(-) There was a slight crisp to the crust, but nothing more than passable.

Nutritional information (referred from http://www.paul.fr/shop/fr-FR/Product/Gaufre_4-10)
  • Fat19.84
  • Proteins5.52
  • Carbohydrates33.68
  • Fiber1.44
  • Salt0.80
  • Sugar10.16
  • Saturated fatty acids1.84
  • Waffle Calories (kcal)338.24
A check with their ingredients showed that only gluten, milk and eggs were used in the making of the waffles. The lack of butter as an ingredient might cater to some, but for 338kcals per serving, I might want to taste something more fragrant.

Verdict: 5.0/10

We ordered the Patissier's Basket (S8.90++), which was supposed to have a croissant, 1/2 flute bread, pain au chocolate and a briochette. I was pretty astonished when these pastries were chosen by the waitress from the table outside the kitchen (refer to picture) and served to us in a woven basket. To make matters worse, we were served the wrong selection of pastries. We had a briochette and escargot and a cramique raisin (brioche with raisin). We were told that the croissant would be served later, but it was not mentioned of until our blueberry tart came about 15mins later and I asked for the croissant. We were left pretty disillusioned about what was going on with the hectic movement on the side by the servers and they seemed rather clueless too in serving our orders. I verified with a waitress on our orders and she politely explained that due to the lack of pastries in the selection basket, we were offered different ones as replacement, but this was not conveyed to our knowledge earlier. When the croissant was eventually brought to us, I noticed the pain au chocolate on the serving tray too, oh well, so much about pastries not available. I had to request on a 2nd occasion for the 1/2 flute bread and a separate 3rd occasion for the jam and butter.

If you had ordered either of the 2 sets of pastries' basket, the waitress basically picked off the confections from the table in the middle of the picture above. Imagine Cafe Cartel's spread, only slightly poorer grade. I supposed the mix-up was due to the fact that the croissant and pain au chocolate belonged to pastries from the bakery (located at the other side of the restaurant) while the rest of the selection were from the bread table. The automatic closed door to the right of the table was the entry to the kitchen. 

Cramique Raisin


The Cramique Raisin and the Briochette tasted the same since the former was just with raisins and well presented differently in an elongated shape.

(+) Only thing good was the crunchy sugar pieces, very sad indeed.

(-) Both tasted more like scone with its relatively hard inside rather than the expected fluffy buttery texture and fragrance.
(-) From the 4th pic, you could see that fermentation of the dough was uneven or even incomplete, which resulted in some parts of the briochette tasting hard and dense.
(-) Lack of moisture in the interior, which made the briochette taste dry.
(-) I had to apply some butter and jam to make it more appetizing.
(-) Considering the density of the briochette (which should NOT be the case), it stuffed us up pretty full quickly, good though if you are after something filling.

  • Fat7.26
  • Proteins5.91
  • Carbohydrates30.40
  • Fiber1.93
  • Salt0.69
  • Sugar6.1
  • Saturated fatty acids4.50
  • Briochette Calories (kcal)214.20

Verdict: 5.5/10

Escargot Raisins

(+/-) Very average and nothing special, neither good nor bad. Was not too sweet though.

  • Fat11.23
  • Proteins4.85
  • Carbohydrates51.14
  • Fiber3.21
  • Salt0.66
  • Sugar25.56
  • Saturated fatty acids27.08
  • Escargot Raisins Calories (kcal)331.00

Verdict: 6.5/10


(+) Very crispy and flaky crust, with good buttery fragrance.
(+) A relatively dense croissant with a heavier filling of the interior, which gave a varied mouthfeel of the soft tender filling with a very crispy crust. A good balance.

(-) Not recommended if you prefer light airy croissants with emphasis on the flaky crusts.

  • Fat12.67
  • Proteins4.39
  • Carbohydrates21.25
  • Fibers2.1
  • Salt0.60
  • Sugar0.00
  • Saturated fatty acids0.05
  • Croissant Calories (kcal)218.90

Verdict: 7.5/10

1/2 flute bread

(+) Butter was served at room temperature which melted in our mouths.
(+) Apricot jam was good quality too with chunks of the fruit.

(-) It was plain hard and hard to chew. Took some effort with the teeth to actually rip a portion off before being able to chew on it. Yes, it was that bad.
(-) Needless to say, impossible to slice with knife.
(-) I could imagine a freshly baked loaf tasting good though, for the interior was rather airy with pockets between the filling, and crust was stiff enough. Probably been left for a while before being served which resulted in the bread turning hard.
(-) Presentation of the serving butter could be improved though.

  • Fat0.47
  • Proteins7.64
  • Carbohydrates44.87
  • Fiber2.85
  • Salt1.17
  • Sugar1.1
  • Saturated fatty acids0.06
  • Flute Bread Calories (kcal)219.99

Verdict: 6.0/10

Tarte Myrtilles (S$6.40++)

(+) The tart had a unique pastry-type buttery flaky base and crust, which was very fragrant
(+) The tart tasted like a light pudding and what appealed was it was not too sweet.

(-) Made me felt like I was eating a curd-like blueberry jam-based tart.
(-) Lack of a burst of freshness which was overall quite a letdown too.
(-) All tartes listed on the menu were not available except for this, a rhubarb slice (tart of the day) and a fruit tarte. The variety could certainly be improved upon.

  • Fat23.62
  • Proteins5.19
  • Carbohydrates49.48
  • Fiber4.60
  • Salt0.91
  • Sugar22.92
  • Saturated fatty acids15.24
  • Blueberry Tart Calories (kcal)440.46

Verdict: 6.5/10

Long black coffee (S$4.60++)

(+) I had a complimentary second cup of black coffee.
(+) Rich and strong, full bodied roast. Definitely my cup of coffee.

(-) First time I had a cup of coffee half-filled while the menu stated 'large cup of coffee'.

I was pretty astonished when I was served my cup of black coffee. Stopping the server, I could not help but asked politely 'Is this supposed to be the serving size of my coffee?'. He seemed rather shocked at my question and replied honestly 'Yeah yeah...it was set by the machine'. I merely reaffirmed by saying 'Okay, so my serving of coffee is supposed to be half a cup then'. With a shrug, he went off and his expression seemed to yell 'Huh, what are you talking about?' Anyhow, he returned to our table couple of minutes later slipping another cup of fresh brew and said 'Here's another cup of coffee'. Before I could realize what was going on and thanked him for it, he was back at the kitchen helping out.

Even though I usually take my coffee black (without sugar nor milk), a check through the sachets tray found a used packet being stuffed back into the pile. Greater supervision should probably be administered.

Glamour from the chandeliers aside, Paul restaurant was quite a starking contrast to the seats on the outside of the restaurant along the corridor of the shopping mall, where we were seated.

This picture illustrated the cashier counter and further in the background was the rubbish bin and staffs' resting area, all exposed to the public and dine-in customers. In fact, we witnessed bags of rubbish being passed over the railings to be sent away and cluster of Malay staffs nestled at a corner waiting to knock off work. A table of 2 customers (where the 3 ladies in the above picture were seated) was sent away because the staff explained that there was a power failure and apparently could not meet their orders and the lady disgruntling walked off murmuring 'Power failure dont need to eat already' (in mandarin). Moments after the couple were sent off, the waitress welcomed and escorted the above ladies into the restaurant. Did not quite make sense to me.
In all honesty, one might have expected better quality food from Paul, 'bakers at heart' considering the reputation and quality of food served elsewhere in UK and Dubai (the two places where I had tried before). 

Customer service was good. When one of the waitress struggled with verifying our orders, the one whom took the orders stepped forward and handled the situation. It seemed like a very stressful and frustrating situation for the servers themselves, but their professionalism deserved some recognition. There were a bunch of french managers (since they seemed to be taking charge when something messed up) on the floor surveying and trying to help resolve disputes. Could it simply be a problem of poor communication? It seemed like neighbouring tables faced similar problems with their orders, so the problem could be fundamental just yet.

Food for thought: If you are not ready for business, it might be worthwhile to wait till the team is ready rather than trying to salvage messy situations day in and out. I would give Paul a couple more weeks to settle in before trying their food again. Then again, I would be gone and would probably be better off enjoying their treats in London.

Paul Bakery
391A Orchard Road, Ngee Ann City
Singapore 238873
Tel: (+65) 6836 5932

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  1. I think you Singaporean guys are a bit envious, you eat shitty food at hawker centers all day (never seen anywhere else in the world such dirty places) and then you rate badly a good European place - and this happens consistently on Hungrygowhere too - just because they charge a normal price for good and clean food.

    1. Dear Anonymous, thank you for your comment, of which I beg to differ and seemingly carry a varied opinion. I am certain that Singapore food is one of the most unique cuisines in the world and hawker centres play an integral part in defining our food heritage. This blog serves no discriminating purpose on any restaurant or eatery, but merely an illustration of our genuine dining experience at the point of patronage. I believe each reader and diner for that matter is subjected to his/her own opinion. It would be appreciated however if you may reserve derogatory remarks to yourself, especially on one's nation cuisine. I would encourage you to peruse through the rest of this blog (if you have the time) to find some raving reviews on what we would regard as a 'good European place'. As reiterated in this entry, I had visited Paul at various countries and had a much better dining experience, both in terms of food quality and customer service. Nonetheless, you are entitled to your personal judgment of 'good food'.

      It might also be worth noting that if a restaurant (be it European or local) receives consistent negative feedback, it only means change is imminent and they should in my humble opinion take heed. It is not always about the label or the mere prestige of an international food chain, it is the absolute food quality and overall gourmet dining experience that we pursue.

      Once again, thank you for your kind time in visiting our blog and hopefully return on a more positive note.